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The Holy Ghost People

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The Holy Ghost People

Publication date 1967
Digitizing sponsor CFH3 Media, LTD.
Ground-breaking example of "cinema verite" filmmaking at its best!
This documentary explores the individual experiences of Pentacostal Christians. Film culminates with ceremonial handling of poisonous snakes. Ironically, it is the preacher that gets bitten.


Reviewer: nighthouse66 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 20, 2013
Subject: There are all sorts of indigenous people.
I come from the south, and i went to a church like this (except we didn't handle snakes). people spoke in tongues, threw each other around, pounded on the pulpits and frothed at the mouth. i found it fascinating and bizarre even then.

as time has gone on i have counted myself luckier and luckier to have witnessed the pentecostal people firsthand. and i also realize that, just as another reviewer pointed out, this is in fact an indigenous cultural phenomenon just like anything else you would read about in national geo. just because it is american, and christian, many people overlook this.

all arguments about the validity of speaking in tongues and religion itself aside, i truly believe that these people were having a spiritual experience. you can put it down to group-think all you want- but there is something to be said for ritual, even homegrown 'merikan ritual. its like appalachian shamanism. in fact, that is precisely what it is. as a southerner, i am proud of these wacky snakehandlin' folk. this is for sure a far cry from Trinity Broadcasting.
Reviewer: rosswarren - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 23, 2013
Subject: Copyright question
Can anyone tell me if this film is in the public domain, or if it is copyright protected? I'd like to use footage in a documentary for National Geographic. Thank you.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 25, 2013
Subject: Yay! Snakes! Wee!
YEARS ago on the archive, there were quite a number of videos (not film) set in the Appalachian mountains about religion, music and just general townswpeople, but mostly it was about religion, and I found that INCREDIBLY fascinating, full of speaking in tongues, faith healing, baptisms, and other fun stuff (and a few boring things). They've dissapeared (maybe because I gave some damning reviews to some of them), but they've always stuck out in my mind as some of the most unique vids ever on the archive.
The Holy Ghost People is similar to these, maybe a wee bit more talky, grainy and non-structured then I would like, but there's still some stuff that got my attention. The interviews are interesting, and the actual speaking in tongues-hallelujah thing is really strangely bizarre. Would have liked to have known what happened to the preacher in the end.
Reviewer: cosmico - - January 13, 2013
Subject: all religion?
Does that include atheism? After all, it's a "religion" (i.e., belief system) as well. :)

I don't buy into many or even most of the practices and beliefs of the "holy ghost people" as displayed in this old documentary, but they are fascinating people and a real part of our history and culture. And I'd darn tootin' rather have one of them as a friend or family member than I would James Randi.
Reviewer: jenjon - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 12, 2013
Subject: all religion is a form of mental illness
If you ever doubted the lunacy and self delusionary nature of religious belief this movie might help convince you. Talking in tongues is a learnt behavior in response to group peer pressure. I know because I've been there and done it. Although the pentacostals are a little more theatrical than mainstream church goers the basic group madness and denial of reality is shared by all the religionist wackadoodles.
Reviewer: rlneva1941 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 3, 2011
Subject: Authentic form of praise appreciated.
A serious film and full of insight to an idigneous right of people to worship in their own manner and way. Only in a free nation is this possible and it is being threatened by forces of evil in our government. Guard that freedom of religion and speech with your life because it is being tested right now! 2011
Reviewer: ceodez - - June 24, 2010
Subject: holy ghost people
I pray that people would read scripture for what it is.....not what they want it to is clear that Jesus was referring to the 1st century appostales doing these things in His name. these people are sincere in their willingness to worship God, but are misguided....speaking in tounges is misunderstood....."slain" in the spirit on demand, everynight.....please pray for all God's people.....thank you mr. adair for your fair representation of this group. rip.
Reviewer: Mallory Ann - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - May 5, 2010
Subject: great movie
I'm writing a paper on this subject and this has to be the best movie about it. Most have a judgmental tone about what the people do and how it's wrong because it's not how they worship. I'm glad that my instructor recommended this to me.
Reviewer: bestpbx - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 6, 2009
Subject: Nice and non-judgmental
I do not practice Christianity the way these folks do. But, it was very interesting to watch and I like that the film does not make fun of these people for their belifs. They seem like very sweet people.
Reviewer: BonnieSmith - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 2, 2009
Subject: Trip down memory lane
I loved the video!
I grew up in Scrabble Creek, and know most every-
body in the movie. I was Church of God, not
Holiness (Bonnie Gray), but my cousins were,
Freda and her kin, who are all in the movie.
My uncle Bill built the church next to our house,
which is still there, my brother Alf still lives
there, as does my sister Thelma who has the diner
in the old Greyhound bus station, which is in the
intro to the movie. My husband Rick downloaded
the video and made a DVD for Freda (Toe) and her
sisters. As a teenage girl I'd attend their
services once in a while, and they were all
loving Godly people. This world would be a much
better place if everyone was as full of God's
Reviewer: DianneC - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 28, 2008
Subject: I LOved It1
I dont believe in handleing snakes, unless you happen onto one, and you have to kill it, but I LOVED the humblness of the people. I wish there could be more of the Holy Ghost People around to preach the truth and you could FEEL Gods Spirit each day!Praise God for His Wonderful Son and for the sweet Holy Ghost!!!
Reviewer: Whitelynx - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 26, 2007
Subject: Beautiful indeed...
Really worth watching both as a historic document and as a movie...
Reviewer: silver&preacher - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - June 5, 2007
Subject: This was a blessing to watch
I am a full time evangelist, also a serpent handler. You know we also drink poison, and handle fire. This was a great video it was such a blessing to watch the saint of the old days worshiping God. As you can tell by watching this documentary that these people are true to their belief, it is not a show but praise unto God. You can tell they have a great love for God and one another. Over the years our church has shrunk considerably, yet though we may have lost followers we have lost absolutely no power. Thank god though that the church is now beginning to grow again with leaps and bounds in the great states of Alabama mainly Alabama, but also in Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky , The Carolina’s and in Virginia, and West Virginia. People are once again hungry for God and Love of their fellow man. The bile says in Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
And in Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
If you hunger and thrust after righteousness you shall be filled.
Reviewer: heroworship - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 18, 2007
Subject: Scrabble Creek Holiness Church
This film is shown in university anthropology classes which deal with magic, religion and witchcraft and sociology classes regarding group hysteria, influence and community cohesion.

An unbiased look at a little-known religious sect as related in the poor, rural and isolated community of Scrabble Creek, West Virginia. The brief narration merely introduces the documentary which it told through the parishioners words and actions during one of their meetings at a Holiness Church.

This version is a slightly cleaner visual copy than the standard VHS. The audio is clean.

Both mp4 files must be downloaded as the film is split into 2-parts, something which should be noted on the file names. Subtitles or a transcription text file would be appreciated for those using this film to teach or study purposese.
Reviewer: Supersensor - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 29, 2006
Subject: Get Both Parts
This is a fantastic film. If you have any interest in spirituality, Shelby Lee Adams, (the photographer,) or folk-gospel music, you should grab this. DO make sure you download BOTH mp4 files, as this is a two parter.
Reviewer: punkfrog - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 29, 2006
Subject: eerie
A look into the christian cults of the american backwaters. Well done.
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